Sight distances at unsignalized intersections: a comparison of guidelines and requirements for human drivers and autonomous vehicles




intersection, sight distance, autonomous vehicle, speed, gap acceptance


Many traffic accidents are caused by unforeseen and unexpected events in a site that was hidden from the driver's eyes. Road design parameters determining required visibility are based on relationships formulated decades ago. It is worth reviewing them from time to time in the light of technological developments. In this paper, sight distances for stopping and crossing situations are studied in relation to the assumed visual abilities of autonomous vehicles. Current sight distance requirements at unsignalized intersections are based among others on speeds on the major road and on accepted gaps by human drivers entering or crossing from the minor road. Since these requirements vary from country to country, regulations and sight terms of a few selected countries are compared in this study. From the comparison it is remarkable that although the two concepts, i.e. gap acceptance on the minor road and stopping on the major road have different back-grounds, but their outcome in terms of required sight distances are similar. Both distances are depending on speed on the major road: gap sight distances show a linear, while stopping sight distances a parabolic function. In general, European SSD values are quite similar to each other. However, the US and Australian guidelines based on gap acceptance criteria recommend higher sight distances. Human capabilities and limitations are considered in sight field requirements. Autonomous vehicles survey their environment with sensors which are different from the human vision in terms of identifying objects, estimating distances or speeds of other vehicles. This paper compares current sight field requirements based on conventional vehicles and those required for autonomous vehicles. Visibility requirements were defined by three vision indicators: distance, angle of view and resolution abilities of autonomous cars and human drivers. These indicators were calculated separately for autonomous vehicles and human drivers for various speeds on the main road and for intersections with 90° and 60° angles. It was shown that the required sight distances are 10 to 40 meters shorter for autonomous vehicles than for conventional ones.


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How to Cite

Magyari, Z., Koren, C., Kieć, M., & Borsos, A. (2021). Sight distances at unsignalized intersections: a comparison of guidelines and requirements for human drivers and autonomous vehicles. Archives of Transport, 59(3), 7-19.


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